(This guest post by Aditi Vashisht and Netha Hussain is part of the series on the WikiWomen’s Collaborative)
On Sunday, 4 November 2012, Wikimedians from Mumbai, India, conducted a Wikipedia workshop for women at Vidyalankar Institute of Technology,Wadala. The event was aimed at introducing women who are not yet editing Wikipedia to the website and teaching them how to edit.
“Lots of women are interested in editing Wikipedia, but sometimes they need to be specially invited to join in,” said Bishakha Datta, one of the primary organizers of the workshop. “Doing this workshop was a chance to strategically get women to participate by creating an event meant for them, where they could freely ask questions, including basic ones, without feeling silly or stupid.”
Wikipedia editors Krutikaa Jawanjal and Pradeep Mohandas, who facilitated the event, were motivated to conduct a women’s workshop for bridging the gender gap that exists in Wikipedia. A lot of preparations were done ahead of time. Vidyalankar Institute of Technology was found to be the best place to conduct the workshop among all venues investigated by the team of organizers. The volunteers got together to discuss the agenda and the schedule of the event and planned their respective sessions.
Over one hundred participants signed up for to attend on the workshop’s Wikipedia page. A Facebook page was created for the event, where approximately 50 participants registered. Interested participants also emailed Wikipedia’s volunteer customer service group, OTRS. The enthusiasm was so high among the participants that registration had to be closed down a couple of days before the workshop. Some of the interested attendees had experimented with editing Wikipedia, and they had started asking questions to the organizers even before the event was launched! All participants who created an account were sent welcome messages by the organizers.
“The pre-meetup preparations involved more than 50 days of work. Two meetups were conducted for planning the workshop. The whole process involved a lot of hard work, yet it was fun,” said Karthik Nadar, the Secretary of Wikimedia India Chapter.
The workshop was a full day event with a lot of fun activities. More than 70 participants attended. After an introduction by the organizers, the participants were divided into groups and one facilitator was allotted to each group. The facilitator helped their group to create and expand a Wikipedia article by themselves. During the lunch break, the participants were served pav bhaji, an Indian delicacy. The participants moved around and made friends with each other and the organizers during the lunch break.
During the afternoon session, the participants asked to clarify their doubts about editing. Organizers gave a brief introduction about the Wikimedia India Chapter, and they conducted sessions sessions on How to add references to a Wikipedia article and How to upload pictures to Commons. The much awaited results of Wiki Loves Monuments India were declared after the sessions. Organizers also conducted a Wiki-Quiz and the winners were given t-shirts and other Wikimedia goodies!
Conducting the workshop was a memorable experience to the team of organizers. Krutikaa said her best memories included the ones where she had to resolve doubts and answer questions about editing Wikipedia. Wikimedian Rohini Lakshane said that it was thrilling to see the joy on the faces of the participants when their edits went live. She said she is planning to organize more workshops in the future because she thinks that workshops of this kind can make the community grow. For Karthik, the workshop was not about the number of participants, but about the number of people who are excited to edit Wikipedia.
The event was covered by various newspapers and websites. Videos on various aspects of Wikipedia were created during and after the event by a team of journalists. Techgross, an online daily for news-related to technology, reported: “Here is wishing that many more such workshops are held across India, Techgoss is sure there are many takers.”
(The Mumbai community is planning to conduct similar events in various parts of the city in the coming months and we’ll provide further updates soon.)
— Aditi Vashisht and Netha Hussain
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